Know Your Host City · Olympic cities · PyeongChang

GTKPC: Seoul Far Away?

I was perusing the PyeongChang 2018 bid book today, as I really wanted to talk more about Korea’s geography–in particular the mountains, since a good chunk of the Olympics relies on skiing or jumping down them. Well, then I fell into a huge rabbit hole because (a) the Korean Peninsula is generally covered with mountains, and (b) PyeongChang is located in the Greater Baekdu Mountain Range, which I’m learning is a big deal to the country, so I really want to research that a bit more and give it its proper due.

However, a different tidbit I picked out of the 2018 bid book [and mind you, the 2018 Games was PyeongChang’s third attempt at getting the Winter Olympics] was that the Organizing Committee plans to use Incheon as the main airport for welcoming the athletes.

Quick look of the map. Incheon’s on the other side of the country!

One might think, Man, that’s kind of a haul to cross through most of the country. Surely they have another major airport that’s closer!

Well, apparently my American is showing. The bid book notes that it only takes three hours by car to reach PyeongChang from any city in South Korea. And it’s just one hour by rail from Seoul. Three hours! You can probably get from the West Coast to the East Coast in four, five hours at the most! Compare that to the US, where it takes about four hours to get from Boston to New York City, and that’s just one small corridor of the country. For the record, the journey from Boston to New York City by train is also about four hours, due to lack of high speed rail capability.

This means that for those of us who live in a larger country in terms of land mass, we’re going to have to get used to a completely different outlook in terms of geography. It’s the complete opposite of the last Olympics in Sochi, which is in the largest country in the world. Getting to the other side of the country meant you were in for the long haul.

Not this time. This has certainly got the potential to be fun–especially if you actually go to the Olympics–because it makes the country a little easier to explore. Perhaps this Olympics will not only show off this region, but the rest of the country in general.

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